The guys from WALKEN are bonkers for guitar pedals. That isn’t just us saying it, they’re self-proclaimed pedal heads and you can hear that appreciation in their music. As they boys criss-cross the country on their Keepin It Flaccid tour with old mates Muddy Chanter they took some time to put their love for pedals onto paper, and they’ve given us a hefty listicle that outlines the big movers and shakers of the effects pedal game.
WALKEN guitarists Matt and Pat reveal their favourite DIY and boutique pedal companies, and some of their game-changing effects ranges of the modern era
If you’ve been playing guitar for the last five or so years and know slightly more than nothing about guitar pedals, chances are that you’ve stumbled upon at least one EarthQuaker gem. This company masters their own take on classic and essential pedals, while simultaneously pushing the boundaries for new and crazy sounds. The pedals are well made, look cool, and if you had six of them on your pedal board you could probably lock yourself in a room for a month and not get bored once (just really hungry).
Top Picks – WALKEN love weird new sounds, so anything by this company is always praised and worshiped. Pat uses the Arpanoid in his rig, primarily just for ridiculous feedback. Another ridiculous pedal that everyone should probably have for no reason is the Rainbow Machine, which sounds like unicorns making love.
Death By Audio
These pedals sound like they were spawned in some sort of radio-frequency themed Satanic ritual. They are actually sometimes terrifying. One of the greatest things about this company is that it is run by a bunch of true noise-rocker nerds, they run shows out of the warehouse they build their pedals in, and they have inspired the creation of multiple effects companies due to their innovative and obsessive approach to creating weird noise. And when Trent Reznor of NIN fame is calling you up for custom orders, you must be doing something right!
Top Picks – This company makes a few real beauties, and also a few ridiculously far out pieces of machinery. The Echo Dream and Apocalypse pedals are some truly fantastic items, which most players would have a fun time getting to know. The Robot however is in the realm of complete confusion, and might be better off as a fancy paper weight.
Sometimes there are those companies who decide they want to master a specific area or field of products and absolutely nail it – Chasebliss Audio are one of those companies. One of the main reasons I am so fond of them, is that they have an approach which encompasses the best of the best between Analog and Digital. It takes the necessity for an analogue tonal quality that a lot of players desire, then flips it on its head with the controllability and effect options of a digital pedal. They take your typical effects parameters and increase them tenfold with some crazy modulation options and a wide variety of controls, also.
If you want to have a beautiful handmade boutique pedal with probably the widest array options you could ever ask for on a Phaser, Vibrato, Flanger or Tremolo – you have to check these guys out! They also come in a really shnazzy box and the owner Joel Korte seems like a bloody legend.
Top Picks – The Wombtone MKII is my personal favourite, but all of their pedals are honestly some of the best of the best. I’m still yet to properly look into the Spectre and give that a read though. Overall though, every pedal has an extremely interesting piece of character to it and company seems really well put together. Very keen to see what they do and where they go in the future.
In a world full of fuzz boxes and noise machines; it is quite easy to look over many companies because, in all honesty, there are a lot of people making pretty much the same thing when it comes to fuzz. Fuzzrocious Pedals, based in New Jersey USA, is a company that really stands out in this regard. They have a range of extremely unique and extremely loud fuzz and dirty pedals, many of which come with the added bonus of personal customisation, such as extra switches for boost or creating feedback.
Additionally, this is a “family business” that is true in nature. The pedals are built and distributed by a married couple, and if you feel inclined you can have your pedals custom painted by their children, which is just adorable and freakin’ rad!
Top Picks – Honestly, most of their products are amazing. The Oh See Demon provides an exceptional blend of OCD/RAT type of fuzz and dirty control, and their new addition Feed Me pedal is a preamp/tone shaper, which, depending on where you put it in the signal chain, can provide up to 20,736 different tone stack options…what the actual hell?
Like any sub-area of the effects pedals market, in this day and age – the delay/echo/reverb market is getting pretty saturated and it’s hard for some people to distinguish or weigh up the little differences between certain pedals. However with everything that’s out there, the folks at Red Panda Lab know exactly how to stand out in the right ways.
Not only do they make amazing pedals with a good look and easy to use functionality – They also give their pedal models really cool sounding names (such as Particle, Raster and Context) and actually bring something new to the table with awesome feedback loop settings and infinite delay and modulation and pitch integrated options.
Top Picks – The delay range and tonal options between the Particle + the Raster are both absolutely amazing for different reasons. The Particle will give you some unreal Granular delay styles + warpy and choppy/glitch repeats – I still think it’s one of very few proper granular delays on the market as well, which makes way cooler.
As for the Raster: it has an option of an integrated switchable pitch-shifter into your feedback loop, whilst also providing the standard repeat time options, reverse delays, modulated delays, barber-pole flanging effects and many more. It’s pretty freaking cool.
Tym Guitars is crucial component to the music scene that we have here in Brisbane. We all love the effects, the store and Tim himself because he really shows how communal this one love we all share can be. We’re just a bunch of gear nerds with a lust for killer tone and it’s a wonderful place to stop in if you feel like having a chat with one of the best dudes around.
The record store/guitar shop/local label/effects production/etc is all primarily run by Tim Brennan out of Brisbane, in the Valley specifically. He makes, in my opinion, some of the best fuzzes on this planet and I love him to death for being a really giving guy who is always keen to share some wisdom and knowledge. He has a fantastic taste in music, too and will support the scene in any way he can. Just a deadset legend who makes some great tones. Plus everything is made with loving care and comes with a lifetime warranty from the man himself – What more could you ask for?
Top Picks – All of the Big Mudd models are perfect. I personally have used the Ramhead model as my main Bass fuzz between WALKEN and my other band Muddy Chanter (whom I play Bass for) since day one of both bands and I don’t think I’d have it any other way; or at least not for a while.
After kicking off their tour in Brissie and the Sunny Coast, WALKEN and Muddy Chanter will be making their next stop in Toowoomba on Friday March 4. You can suss out all the tour details here. And while you’re at it, check out their rad new single for Eagle Eye here.